The first time I ever had Limoncello (yes supposed to be spelled this way traditionally) was with my old friend Robco, who invited me to his brothers then-new restaurant, Via Tribunali on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. I will never forget when that canary yellow chilled liquid perfection first touched my lips and entered my soul.
Traditionally, Limoncello is a digestivo, an after-dinner liqueur to help with digestion and prepare us for dessert or post-dinner espresso. Very few people in the US, it seems, know of Limoncello’s powers…so I am going to share a homemade version with all of you here, just in time for the holidays. Pay special attention to the amount of time you have to let it sit, between batches.
This particular post is updated from a previous one as I was once again inspired to share from my recent trip to Cyprus. Meeting Remi Arnaud, and his lovely family for lunch on the Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday for a lunch of grilled lamb steaks, “Israeli Salad” (mixed greens, lots of herbs and tzatiki dressing with toasted pita chips), baked rosemary-garlic fingerling potato fries, and lost of great Cypriot wine. After lunch, Remi brings out a bottle of yellowish liqueur. Immediately I figure it has to be my favorite post-dinner drink, limoncello, but nope, it is something AT LEAST as good if not better! This liqueur is called Genepi, and is an herbal liqueur made of the leaves of a plant found only in the Alps. With hints of chamomile, and a touch of citrus, it was dangerously delicious. It was so delightful, I decided I must repost the Limoncello recipe for the summer, that way you can be sipping on the cloudy, canary-yellow liqueur into our long summer.
Enjoy by itself in a cordial glass, or as an Amalfi Tonic (1 ounce limoncello, 1 ounce gin or vodka, 2 ounces tonic, splash of cranberry juice)!
zest of 15 lemons, preferably organic
2 bottles 100 proof Vodka (anything lower and it will freeze)
5 cups simple syrup
4 cups white sugar
5 cups water
Pour the vodka into a large jar, at least 2 quarts. Add the zest of 15 lemons. Seal and place in a dry, cool place for at least 30-40 days.
For the Simple Syrup-
Place sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Whisk until all sugar has dissolved, about 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
After 30-40 days, remove the zest by pouring through a fine mesh strainer and add another bottle of 100 proof vodka. Stir in the simple syrup and place in freezer for at least 15 days before you consume.
Limoncello will be slushy at the most, but should never be too icy nor should it freeze (benefit of 100 proof vodka). Enjoy.